WESTFIELD - It was a hard good-bye.
The Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education said a fond farewell to Interim Superintendent Margaret Sauer. As of Monday, May 21, David Davison officially became the new superintendent at WACS, so the meeting on Monday, May 14 was Sauer's last.
"There really is nothing, absolutely nothing," that could be done to thank Sauer for what she has done for the district Board President Marie Edwards said. "To think of where we were and where we are now, and to think we have here to thank, there really is not enough we can do."
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Westfield Academy and Central School Interim Superintendent Margaret Sauer, left, is all laughs upon receiving a “key” to the school from Board of Education President Marie Edwards, right, at the board’s meeting on Monday, May 14. It was Sauer’s last meeting as new Superintendent David Davison took office on Monday, May 21.
"It's been my sincere pleasure," Sauer said. "Really, you guys have been absolutely wonderful. It's been worth every minute. ... Overall, I'm really glad that I've been able to help ... move the district forward."
Though there is more to come, Edwards did present Sauer with a key to the school in the shape of the special fob style key, which gave Sauer a laugh. She recounted the story of when she returned to the district, asked for a key and had to adjust to the new technology.
Sauer received a standing ovation from both the board and the audience.
The majority of the discussion at the meeting centered around the joint board meeting between WACS and Brocton Central School Boards of Education. Four questions were posed to the board - What would it do differently than in the pas? Are there any ideas how to engage the community? Should the district seek funds for a feasibility study? Does the board wish to approve a resolution to enter into a feasibility study on centralization with BCS?
Board Vice President Steve Cockram said he believes in a two prong approach - a state portion and a public education or public relations campaign.
"It's about the kids and what they're going to get," he said.
After spending some time thinking about the issue, board member Jeffrey Greabell said the most important thing is to explain to the public the fact that the district has to do something or the students are going to suffer greatly.
"We're chipping away at our programming already," Edwards said.
"With a maul," Greabell added.
Board member Steven Reynolds lamented the lack of community interest. He said a budget meeting used to pack the auditorium in the past, but this year there were only 11 people. Greabell responded he thinks that is where the board needs to step in and pound the pavement. He suggested offering to meet with civic groups at their locations and talk about the facts of what the district is facing in its financial future. One fact he feels is the most important is that the district had to cut programs as opposed to the district having excess in the budget to cut.
Cockram suggested a social media component to the board's campaign while Business Manager and District Clerk Al Holbrook suggested asking the civic organizations if they are willing the help our, expanding the base of people getting the right information.
As far as the feasibility study, it is a mandatory component of a merger or consolidation, and no one was opposed. Sauer added the Brocton board had the same resolution on its agenda on Wednesday, May 16. Both Westfield's and Brocton's resolutions unanimously passed their respective boards.
Also at the meeting, the board was given an update on the mentoring program for WACS teachers. Kendra Bills and Laura Wilson spoke about how the program is being tweaked in order to be compliant with New York State regulations. The program will go from one to three years for non-tenure hires. In addition to monthly meetings, new teachers will also be assigned a personal mentor. Sauer complimented the ladies, noting they are doing all this work on the program voluntarily. The board approved the updates later in the meeting.
Secondary Principal Ivana Hite introduced the valedictorian and salutatorian for the 201-12 school year. Alec Freyn is the valedictorian and will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology this fall for a degree in biomolecular science and biotechnology. He hopes to continue his education by going to graduate school for immunology, specifically focusing on disease control and prevention. Joseph Marshall is salutatorian and will be attending Jamestown Community College majoring in biotechnology. Though he has not made any final plans as to which college he will transfer to or what his future career plans are, he is interested in a career in science or the biomedical industry.
In response to a letter sent out earlier this year asking neighboring districts about their interest in merging or consolidating with WACS, the Ripley Central School Board of Education thanked Westfield for reaching out, but said it was holing out for a regional high school.
With the district preparing for its 175th anniversary, the board discussed the possibility of hosting a reception during alumni weekend, offering building tours and/or officially dedicating the Wayside building to Dr. Van Laughlin. Both Edwards and board member Francine Brown volunteered to work more on the options.
In her board commentary Edwards commented on the number of changes and good-byes this year, noting the large turnaround, both in superintendents and board members, five of whom started this school year on the board but will not be there this fall. However, she saw a glimmer of hope with seven people interested in running for the board in the May election, noting the board needs to have fresh eyes, more people and more help.
In other business:
the board was notified Primary Principal Paula Troutman received tenure effective May 8;
proposed amendments to the CSBA Constitution and By-laws were approved and members were elected to serve on the CCSBA Executive Committee;
two WACS elementary classrooms were approved for use by the YWCA and UPK/Head Start for their UPK programs for the 2012-13 school year;
Edwards was appointed as chairperson, Holbrook as district clerk, Cossi Gizzi as chief inspector and Carol Best, Elena Marsala and Louise young as election inspectors for the annual meeting, held after the polls closed on Tuesday, May 15;
cleaner William Dulmus' resignation for the purpose of retirement was accepted;
the following teachers were added to the district's preferred eligibility list - Geraldine Beers, mark Minnick, Kimberly Tiberio, Ann Janik, Jennifer Kilcoyne, Roger Chagnon III, Jane Gens, Jacob Hitchcock, Molly anderson and Bryan Olson;
teachers Chantelle Liddell, Tamara Meyer, Bryan Olson, Ashley Raynor and Douglas Tramontana were appointed to tenured positions;
Marjorie Clement's position as a long-term substitute of teacher of speach and hearing handicapped was amended and will now end May 31 instead of June 22;
Amy Webb's child rearing leave dates were changed and will now end on May 31 instead of June 30;
teaching assistant Megan Baumgarden was advanced to the second step hourly rate due to satisfactory performance effective May 15;
Amanda Pearo was appointed as a long-term certified substitute teacher in the music department effective May 9 through June 22;
Kathy Ponka, Christine Jacobson, Michael Mohart, Melanie Brushaber-Goulding and Christina Black were approved as certified substitute teacher for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year effective May 15;
Linda John was approved as an uncertified substitute teacher for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year effective May 15; and
a Father's Day field trip to the Pittsburgh Pirates versus New York Mets baseball game on Wednesday, May 23 by the Westfield Varsity Baseball team at no cost to the school was approved.